The messenger essay task
‘In what way is The Messenger about ‘response to challenge’? How does this relate to changes in Ed over the course of the novel?’ Even though Ed has a series of questions throughout his journey, the main part of his challenge is to overcome his own personal barriers that he built himself. His challenge is himself, and his self-doubt.
Ed encounters many different types of physical, intellectual and emotional challenges. Each quest Ed undertakes changes and molds him into his full potential. Ed is faced with a huge challenge right from the start. The writer, Markus Zusak, gives the reader the impression that Ed is capable of taking on a challenge. For example; the bank robbery: Ed jumps to the challenge, saving thousands of dollars, and making him look like a hero when he takes the gun, and defeats the robber.
However, Ed disregards his ability to be a leader, just as he ignores that he is the hero in this bank robbery; he doesn’t believe that he deserves the recognition that he gets. Markus Zusak has shown that Ed is a better person than he thinks he is.
Ed speaks of himself as a lazy, unclean, man who can’t even finish school, which tells the reader that Ed has a negative self-image. This small section at the beginning of the book gives, the reader the impression that Ed can quite easily take control over a situation and makes the right decisions; he just doesn’t know it yet.
This is where Ed starts his journey. From the moment the robber walks into the bank, Ed is faced with the challenge: let the man walk out with everyone’s money, or step up and take control. Ed is faced with another challenge; 45 Edgar Street, midnight written on the ace of diamonds.
All he has is a piece of paper with three words on it. He doesn’t know how to respond to this challenge. He shows initiative when he travels to Edgar Street, and watches the family to find out if can see an obvious problem to solve. It doesn’t take long for Ed to see what the problem is, a man raping his wife, leaving her to cry most nights on the front porch.
Ed doesn’t respond to this confronting situation straight away, this was the first time anyone had relied on him for anything. His first challenge was to act on what he had encountered. He has the chance to make a life changing decision for someone, and feels as if he couldn’t walk out on this, but he did. This shows that Ed still has room to grow, and that his journey is not over yet.
By the end of the book, Ed is more aware of what he has to do: figure out what the subject needs help with, and fix it. He is stunned; however, when he finds out the subject is his own mother. Everything he has learned from his previous cards is put aside. Other times, Ed has helped strangers, and it was easier to watch them, and pick out their problems, than someone he knows and loves.
This is a setback for him: he doesn’t know how to respond to it, as it is so close to home. This is an informal important part of Ed’s journey because he is now realizing that all these cards and addresses have been chosen for him. He knows it’s no coincidence that it is his mother that he is to help now. He accepts that whoever is behind this has thought this through well and knows more about him then he had first thought.
The challenge however was not so much for his mother, but for Ed to accept and tell his mother that he is okay with her moving, on and to see his mother happy. This challenge helps him to recognize that he is changing as a person.
He has never stood up to his mother before, even though he has strong opinions about her, but had always kept them to himself. Ed finds himself yelling and confessing his true thoughts and feelings about his mother, on her front porch a few days later.
He knows that he has changed when he walks away, holding his head high. He knew that he would have of never had the courage to do this before. He is finally starting to accept that he is changing and becoming a better person. Previously, Ed had not known how to respond to challenges, and had never taken initiative when faced with obstacles.
After his journey, when Ed was faced with a consequence that he could not ignore, he was able to face challenge constructively and positively. Each challenge he was given helps Ed grow into, a brave and motivated person. The way Ed responds to challenge is different from his first card to the last, and he finally has the motivation to set goals and strive to achieve them.